Swimming may seem easier than jogging uphill, but does working out in the water really provide the same benefits as exercising on land?
Aside from feeling like a mermaid or living out your Michael Phelps dream, just think about this: “A 155-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 704 calories swimming fast, and 493 calories swimming slower,” according to Active.
You’d need to run 10.9 mph for 30 minutes to torch the same amount of calories!
In addition to being a surefire way to lose weight, a water-based exercise plan also helps you:
- Gain cardiovascular stamina
- Improve strength and flexibility
- Enhance body contours
- Increase circulation
- Rehabilitate healing muscles
So whether you’re just starting out a new exercise regime or you’re ready to switch up your current workout, here are 3 reasons to consider going aquatic:
1. Buoyancy is an Exerciser’s BFF
You can actually reduce your body weight by 50–90% thanks to buoyancy (or your ability to float). The more you submerge, the less you feel like you weigh.
If you’re overweight, you probably struggle with activities like running or rock climbing, but your weight won’t hold you back in the pool. Your arms, legs, and torso will move with less strain and in a much wider range of motion.
Exercising feels easy-to-do even though you’re working against water’s natural resistance.
See, moving in water is an isokinetic exercise. “In an isokinetic exercise, no matter how hard you work, whichever force you’re pushing against pushes back against you just as hard,” Ben Greenfield, the Get-Fit Guy, explains.
So in order to move forward, you literally have to push water out of the way. And since water provides close to 15% more resistance than air, it’s basically like working out with tiny weights attached to your body.
Cardio and resistance training at the same time? Done and done.
2. Water Exercise is Safer (and Feels Better) for Your Body
Painful mishaps in the water are nil compared to the accidents you could incur from running on rough terrain or lifting too much. Plus, since your movements are more controlled in the water, you have slim chances of injuring yourself due to poor form.
Feel free to go hard without feeling the pain during your workout sesh.
3. It’s Perfect for Seniors and those with Limited Mobility
As Daniel Hass notes for the Cleveland Clinic, “Aquatic exercise is a common tool used in physical therapy and other rehabilitation settings… [to] improve strength and mobility in patients recovering from surgeries.”
Water activities are low impact and ideal for those suffering from arthritis, bad knees, sore muscles, stiff joints, and general achiness stemming from inactivity.
You can (and should!) swim into your golden years. Researchers from one study learned that water exercise provided “significant improvements” in heart health, muscular strength, body fat, and total cholesterol in women between 60–75 years old.
Exercising in Water is Not All Laps and Water Ballet
You can also walk, run, practice aqua yoga, or try these toning water exercises from Fitness Magazine in the pool.
Sign up for water aerobics classes at your local rec center to combine all the benefits of your cardio class and strengthen your muscles simultaneously without giving up the social setting of your gym crew.
Now that you know all the positives of exercising in water, are you ready to trade in your gym sneakers for a swim cap?